When advertising and promoting your online business, you should bear in mind that there are legal ramifications of your actions. By being mindful of the following few common advertising and promoting mistakes, you can make sure that you stay on the right side of the law!
Making misleading and false claims
When marketing your online business and designing your website, you need to ensure that you do not make any claims about your product or service which may mislead clients or create false impressions.
Below, you will find a list of some common types of false and misleading advertisements that you may unintentionally create.
· Fine print: while many advertisements do include fine print, the words in the fine print must not contradict the overall message of the advertisement.
· Comparative advertising: many advertisements compare their product or service to others on the market. This comparison must be accurate, otherwise the advertisement could be considered misleading.
· Bait advertising: this occurs when you advertise something to be on sale when there is either no, or very little stock available. To avoid being misleading, the advertisement should state that there is a short supply of the good in question.
· Environmental claims: if you advertise that your product or service is environmentally friendly, you must be able to substantiate this claim.
You can still use very exaggerated phrases, which are referred to as “puffery” These are the types of phrases that no one could treat seriously or find misleading. An example of this is “We sell the fluffiest puppies in the world” or “we have the juiciest steaks in all the land”.
Using Social Media
Using social media is a fantastic way to advertise and promote your business directly to prospective clients. It is your responsibility to ensure that any content published on your social media page is accurate, irrespective of whether you were the author of it. The best way to minimise the risk of using social media to advertise and promote is to avoid making any statement online, that you would not make in any of your other advertisements (such as in print). You should prohibit others from commenting on your page with misleading claims. You have the power to remove and reply to comments on your social media pages and should do so if someone is posting misleading statements. You should bear in mind that social media is a 24/7 operation and that it is your responsibility to monitor your pages.
A good way of advertising and promoting a new online business is by sending ‘cold’ messages to potential clients. You do need to be careful that these messages are not considered spam. Spamming occurs when you send people spontaneous messages without their consent. This is an illegal act in Australia. You should only email potential clients who have expressly or impliedly given consent to be contacted. If the client’s email address or contact details are publicly available online and there is no attached statement that commercial messages are not wanted, then this is a form of inferred consent. You should also bear in mind that the subject matter of the message you are sending needs to be relevant to their business.